Elvis Joseph, 45, is a hope bearer who did heroic acts through sports for children, especially the vulnerable, underprivileged, outcast, and marginalized in India.
Elvis, a Catholic, is the founder and director of Bangalore Schools Sports Foundation (BSSF), as well as a graduate of St. Joseph's College, Bangalore, and a former university and state athlete.
"The starting point for all my achievements is my failures," he said.
After giving up his career as an athlete due to some injuries, he studied sports management and got his degree in the United States while he was working there.
He founded the BSSF in April 2009 to encourage, promote, and support sports and healthy lifestyle initiatives for children because the schools charged a sports fee whether the children did sports or not and saw sports as a recreational activity rather than a professional one.
Elvis wanted "to ensure that all children’s earliest experiences of sport and physical activity are positive and rewarding."
He told Surbhi Chawla in an interview about his inspiration, "My first project was for HIV children. For me, the larger intent was to empower lives. The objective was to build the immune system of the child.
The world talks about HIV, but there are no solutions for the affected. People are pumped with medication or neglected."
He started with 20 children in Karnataka alone, to train the HIV-positive children to possess a sense of belonging and identity and give them opportunities to be independent.
In an interview with Adolf Washington, Elvis said, "My long-term goal is to reach out to one million children and youth and empower them through sports and to be recognized by the government of India and UNESCO."
He was promoting sports and a healthy lifestyle, beginning with the ground-breaking for children and youth to reach international standards.
The two HIV-affected boys, Babu Senappa and Manik Prabhu (14), could participate in the International Children’s Games (Children’s Olympics), held in the Netherlands, in which child athletes from 60 countries participated in June 2015.
Government funding is for specific purposes, especially medication. There was no fund for sports. The country doesn’t have a plan for them. So, it was a challenge. Elvis started BSSF with all his savings.
Later, he got the help of Koshy Varghese, managing director of VDB (Value Designbuild Pvt Ltd.), for the complete journey for the two HIV-positive boys, and Dr. Ken Gnanakan, Chancellor & Founder of ACTS Group of Institutions, who had supported the food and accommodation cost for the team to reach the Netherlands for the 2015 Children’s Olympics.
BSSF is "not just about sports; we also believe in going beyond sports," said Elvis.
He had seven special projects under his outreach program.
"The Champion in Me" is the first-of-its-kind project in the world. The program dealt with sports for children living with HIV/AIDS.
The program aims to remove stigma and discrimination through sport as a medium, empower these kids with the right to play sports, get them into the mainstream, and work on their immune systems.
Every year, on December 1, World AIDS Day, they have a sports meet exclusively for children with HIV/AIDS.
Babu Senappa and Manik Prabhu were the products of Champion in Me. With the help of UNAIDS, Elvis was planning to expand the project nationwide.
The Magic Feet project reaches out through sports to slum children and the underprivileged.
Elvis said, "This project was initiated basically to empower these children through football, have them finish school, and also train them in life skills and create opportunities so that they can get jobs in the mainstream."
The project was already four years old and was an exclusive football project. Their team won the Great Wall Cup of China in 2014.
Elvis was looking to provide a facility so that the children could play free of charge and have their own club.
"Invisible Talent" is a program for children and young people in prisons, especially inside the Bangalore Central Prisons, who are victims of situations and are not criminals. Some of the boys who come out of prison come back and train with the program.
It aims to rebuild their lives, and "Many of their lives have changed," Elvis said.
"Challenged" is for differently abled children who want to play sports. In this program, a boy lost his legs below his waist due to a train running over him. He wished to run for the country with prosthetic legs.
"When he does, he will be the first bilateral amputee to run for the nation," Elvis stated.
"Survivors" is a project for tribal children. It is currently taking shape.
The ‘I am She' project is for underprivileged children from families of daily wagers, street vendors, or those living in brothels. They are being trained to become future sportspersons for India.
The first under-15 girls' soccer team from Bangalore City, India, participated in the 47th Children’s Olympics. This team was a product of the ‘I and She’ project.
As a Catholic, Elvis described his initiatives as "a project called the ‘Catholic School Games’ exclusively for Catholic schools and colleges. Then Bangalore Archbishop Bernard Moras had a meeting inviting all the principals to take this forward, but slowly the schools backed out, citing academic pressure and time constraints."
Elvis believed that God was working on him. In God’s grip, he belonged to Jesus. He was motivated by love and compassion toward humanity and to share the love of Christ in this way.
He shared his happiest moments, "I have been honored by mayors, governors, and eminent personalities from so many countries, but my most proud moments have been in winning souls for the glory of God."
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.